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Walk with me, in honor of my late husband and others who have diabetes

Gina Boatright
Gina Boatright

I am inviting you to walk with me in the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi’s (DFM) Gulf Coast Walk on Sept. 16 at Jones Park in Gulfport. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk starts at 10 a.m.

Yes, there are a lot of walks that benefit a lot of great causes on the Coast. What makes this walk different than the others? For starters, the nonprofit Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi uses your donations to help people in Mississippi instead of sending them to a corporate office in another state.

This year, the walk is being held in memory of my late husband, Toby Warren Boatright, who passed away in August 2016. Toby was Type 1 diabetic for 30 years. Toby was very knowledgeable about diabetes and was always willing to lend an ear to a parent or friend who was dealing with a diagnosis and advocate for and with them.

I, however, was not as knowledgeable and am working to change that now. We all need to become advocates for diabetes awareness. This awareness is crucial in many ways: helping someone suffering from low blood sugar, making lifestyle changes to decrease the chance of being diagnosed with diabetes, and using your voice to let others know about the need to remove barriers that keep kids and adults from managing their diabetes at school and work.

The DFM’s main goal is preventing diabetes and associated complications as well improving the lives of every person and family touched by diabetes through education, medical assistance, support, advocacy and research.

I ask for your help in the following ways: Make a tax-deductible donation to my team fundraising page (https://www.crowdrise.com/team-toby-boatright), sign up and form your own team, or walk as an individual.

Visit www.msdiabetes.org to learn more about how you can support the DFM and its mission to save lives every day — through educational programs, children’s programs and patient assistance programs. Help me and the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi “Keep Hope Local” by joining us at Jones Park on Sept. 16 to memorialize Toby and honor our neighbors, coworkers and friends who are living with diabetes.

Gina Boatright lives in Gulfport.

Diabetes facts

▪  One in 8 Mississippians have diabetes, and 90 percent of those have type 2.

▪  Of the 373,000 Mississippians with diabetes, only about 274,000 are aware they have diabetes.

▪  Since July 2017, 40 kids have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes between central and South Mississippi.

▪  Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs primarily in those under the age of 40. However, disease onset can occur at any age. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system turns against a part of the body. In diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the islet cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.

▪  Type 2 diabetes is mostly genetic and can be triggered by a sedentary lifestyle. With Type 2, the insulin is not as effective in a person’s body, and they become insulin resistant. There are medications available to help the body’s insulin work more efficiently, but sometimes insulin injections are needed.